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Published On: Wed, Jun 15th, 2016

The Cheek of Her: Black Heart Mantra

cheekThe Cheek of Her
Black Heart Mantra

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The Cheek of Her is the one-woman project of singer/songwriter Helen Dooley. Her new EP, Black Heart Mantra, is a spiky, hard-lyric, jumpy, mélange from a woman with a distinctive voice, and a great way of getting across tunes of deep meaning with her tongue placed firmly in cheek. “9 Lives” is a big beginning tune, with Dooley’s vocals truly face-first in the mix, big drums behind her, floating strings slipping in on the full, chanted chorus that’s all pushed by piano. It’s the obvious single. “Give Up the Ghost” features mostly Dooley and piano, but here her lyrics are even more biting (with a nasty backing vocal) and snapping drums. Man, has this woman seen some crap in her relationships! “Yolo” again mines that snapping, weird drum beat, piano, Dooley’s warble and I’m-hurt lyrics, but the chorus has a good cymbal push and then Dooley plays staccato with beats and the word “YOLO.” The music and fine production make this quirky song and slightly banal lyric shine. The title track has jazzy, up-front drums and a piano ender, again mining the same lyrical themes with a nice, slicing synth and as is true throughout these tunes, some subtle bass playing. (If I have one criticism, it would be that Dooley needs to get some other subjects to sing about other than just her heart.) This is surely not everyone’s cup of tea. Dooley’s voice is upfront in the mix, her songwriting is coming at you with not very many frills and her heart is laid bare. But The Cheek of Her is fine, strong stuff and I recommend Black Heart Mantra.

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The Cheek of Her: Black Heart Mantra